EY Study Reveals What Millennials Want

September 13, 2013 7:38 pm
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By Debby Scheinholtz

EY Study Reveals What Millennials Want

There’s a big gap between what Millennials want—to move up quickly—and what they need—more management training and experience, according to a groundbreaking survey by EY of 1,200 employees. We have video interviews with the EY leaders who made it happen because their workforce is now 60 percent Millennial/Gen Y.  

Main findings:

• Younger workers rank higher on cultural competence but lower on effective managerial skills.

• Gen Y/Millennial workers may be moving into management too quickly and need to  learn more from older managers.

• Social media is crucial, especially to the 6,000 new employees the firm will recruit this year.

Karyn Twaronite, Partner and EY’s Americas Inclusiveness Officer, says because Gen Yers are moving into management so quickly, they may not be getting enough opportunities to shadow more experienced managers on the job. To keep up with the rapid movement, the firm must ensure that Millennials have the right skills to succeed. “While it’s encouraging that Millennials are expected to significantly grow their managerial skills by 2020, the onus is on companies to also give them equitable opportunities to gain the right mentors, sponsors, career experiences and training to capitalize on this optimism,” Twaronite said.

The firm recently hosted an event with author Dan Schawbel discussing his new book, Promote Yourself: The New Rules for Career Success, and moderating a panel on generational issues. EY Millennial Ken Pickard is featured in Schawbel’s book. Pickard, a Senior within the Advisory Services practice at EY, exemplifies another of the findings from the EY research: Millennials value promotions and a clear path to growth. In his second year at the firm, Pickard joined an Innovation Challenge team and proposed that the group, consisting of several members senior to him, study social-media risk. Pickard’s team won the challenge, and his work gave him the opportunity to “build his own brand” within the firm; he is currently sought out by others for his expertise in social media.

Communicating via social media is critical to EY in engaging with Millennials, says Ken Bouyer, EY Americas Director of Inclusiveness Recruiting. The firm will recruit more than 6,000 people this year, and Bouyer says leveraging technology is just one of the ways in which the firm is “meeting Millennials where they are.”

The research also revealed some interesting differences in the workplace perks valued by each generation:

  • While cash is still king across all three generations and was ranked first by 49 percent of respondents, Gen X valued workplace flexibility most—and, in fact, Gen X men were the most likely (40 percent) to leave a company if flexibility was not offered, followed by Gen X women (37 percent), Gen Y men (36 percent) and Gen Y women (30 percent).
  • Gen Y women (16 percent) valued promotions more than any other group, followed by Gen Y men (10 percent).
  • Different work expectations (cited by 77 percent of respondents) and a lack of comfort with younger employees managing older employees (72 percent) were the biggest challenges cited across all generations.

Twaronite noted that the firm is taking a proactive approach to managing the generations to create optimally performing teams to serve clients, “from hosting firm-wide webcasts on generational differences and similarities to tailoring our recruiting, talent-development and communications practices to best appeal to an increasingly Millennial population. Investments like these are a prerequisite for building high-performing, generationally diverse teams.

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